Herbs and plants that heal

Spring time, new growth and lots of weeding. Our herb garden at home is rather large and at the moment rather leggy.

However I’ve been appreciating some of the wonderful world of herbs and plants that surround us and from which we derive our natural herbal products. Here are a few of my favourite products under the spotlight:

Calendula – a tincture, made from the common marigold plant, and a wonderful antiseptic for home use. You can get it as a cream or ointment. Use it for rashes, cuts, scratches and abrasions after bathing the wound or skin to clean it. For babies and toddlers we have baby wipes with chamomile and calendula. Another popular use of calendula is in toothpastes and deododorant.

Slippery Elm is a herbal remedy traditionally used for indigestion, dyspepsia, heartburn and flatulence, for soothing for coughs and sore throats.You can make Slippery Elm tea with one teaspoon of dried herb per cup of boiling water. Let it steep for at least five minutes to extract the oils of this herb. Others take Slippery Elm as a night time drink (the malted version is great for this) stirred into hot milk or milk alternative, it is very soothing for the stomache and can also be purchased in pill form.

Fennel There is a very good reason why most Indian restaurants have a bowl of fennel seeds on the table or as you leave. Fennel is traditionally known to cleanse and calm the digestive system, freshen the breath and may also supress the appetite a little, so don’t serve before the meal! This calming effect is one of the benefits of the ever popular Fennel tea. There are many different brands of Fennel tea or infusion, sometimes combined with other flavours. The lovely aniseed flavour makes fennel tea really pleasant as a drink in any form. Because of its breath sweetening properties and great taste, fennel is also used alot in toothpastes, and makes a great alternative to peppermint.

Saw Palmetto Serenoa repensis, is a small palm with rough “teeth” along the 20 -or- so leaves, which give it it’s name. It is generally associated with prostate health. Prostatic hypertrophy in men can be most uncomfortable and can affect frequency and control of urination. Saw Palmetto is most often found in the form of herbal capsules or liquid tinctures. Follow label directions for regular use to help maintain prostate health.

Tea Tree oil and it’s benefits are generally well known. Tea tree is the common name for the resinous material from the Australian Melaluca tree. It has volatile oils that have a camphor-like fragrance. There are masses of products which use it as an ingredient to help us benefit from its natural antiseptic qualities. From the essential oil itself to the many creams and ointments it is one of the better treatments for athlete’s foot fungus and is often considered more effective than drug therapy. For this, apply the oil twice a day to the area between the toes affected by fungus. Tea Tree can be used in so many ways as a general antiseptic. I use it for mouth ulcers and oral care so is often used in toothpaste. It is also popular as a hair rinse to guard against head lice and, diluted a little, to dab on spots on your skin to dry them out.

Nature’s healing properties – how amazing and we only see the tip of the ice berg.